Jane Warner, patrol special officer, dies
by Heather Cassell
San Francisco Patrol Special Police Officer Jane Ellen Warner, who was known as "Officer Jane" around the Castro, Mission, and Noe Valley neighborhoods, died Saturday, May 8 after a yearlong battle against ovarian cancer. She was 53.
Ms. Warner died at her home in San Francisco with her mother, Carol Warner; wife, Dawn Warner; and close friend Michelle Ourlian at her side.
Ms. Warner was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in late 2008. In spite of the diagnosis she continued to manage her city-chartered police service business through most of 2009 and returned to walking her beats later that year after medical professionals diagnosed her as cancer-free.
She was also the longtime writer of the Bay Area Reporter 's Crime and Punishment column, which she continued to write up until recently.
Ms. Warner wasn't back on the beat for very long when she was injured on the job early Christmas Day morning in 2009 when she responded to an incident outside Trigger bar and a man broke her arm. At the time, James Crayton McCullough, 60, of San Francisco, was arrested in connection with the incident. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a court appearance later this month.
In response to the incident, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously adopted enhanced protections for patrol special police, introduced by openly gay Supervisor Bevan Dufty who represents the Castro and Noe Valley neighborhoods.
Ms. Warner "represented the epitome of community policing," Dufty said.
"Jane was such an active and important presence in the Castro and Noe Valley. Her passing touches all of us," Dufty said. "Generations of our community have gone out at night and have been safer because of her work. She was always a positive presence."
A longtime peace officer, Ms. Warner loved law enforcement, in particular neighborhood policing. For 20 years, she enjoyed walking the Castro and surrounding neighborhood streets smiling and joking with merchants and residents while petting dogs and providing friendly safety advice.
"She always thought of the community first," said Serge White, the former owner of the Castro beat. "She really had heart in her work."
Ms. Warner started her career in law enforcement as a deputy sheriff in Hawaii in 1983, after obtaining her degree in criminal justice from Chaminade University in Hawaii. Three years later she became an undercover police officer for the Honolulu Police Department. Ms. Warner moved to California and joined the San Anselmo Police Department as the only female and openly lesbian police officer in 1991. A year later she sued the department for discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation and won.
The case nearly destroyed Ms. Warner's law enforcement career, but she was hired by White as an assistant patrol special police officer in the Castro in 1993. During her 20-year career as a patrol special police officer, Warner was honored with many commendations from the San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco District Attorney's office, San Francisco Police Commission, Board of Supervisors, the California Senate, and merchants.
An advocate for patrol specials
Ms. Warner became president of the San Francisco Patrol Special Police Officers' Association in 2005, advocating on behalf of the patrol special police. During her five-year tenure as president she successfully lobbied the San Francisco Police Commission and the Board of Supervisors to update the rules and procedures governing the patrol special police, increase protections for patrol special police officers on the streets, as well as raised public interest, knowledge, and maintained the history of the patrol special police.
"She was a great leader," said Hanley Chan, vice president of the patrol special association.
Chan pointed out that Ms. Warner, who was a regular fixture at community and civic meetings, worked for the betterment of the entire patrol special police force and moved the sometimes-fr
"She put all of her heart and soul into the patrol specials," Chan said.
Ms. Warner also sat on the board of the Castro Street Fair, for which the patrol special police provides security services.
Ms. Warner's business was more than a job, it was a passion and a part of the community, said Jim Hammer, an openly gay member of the Police Commission.
"It's a real loss for people in the Castro. She was a part of our community. She will be sorely missed," added Hammer, who echoed Dufty's sentiments that Ms. Warner's value was her longtime presence in the community, which signified the "best of community policing" because she knew the "neighborhood and knows the people."
San Francisco Police Sergeant Charles "Chuck" Limbert, the LGBT liaison at Mission Station, worked side-by-side with Ms. Warner.
"It's a great loss to our community," said Limbert, who added Ms. Warner's "pleasure in life was to make sure animals were well cared for" and that she treated everyone who encountered her with dignity "no matter what their economic status was in life."
"She was a great ambassador for the Castro community," he added.
Last month, Ms. Warner's family hired Melissa Handman to manage Warner's beats: 3, 66, and 69 under her estate, which was her wish, as reported in the B.A.R. last week.
"It is my deepest wish, as well as the wish of the merchants we serve, that the patrol special community police work continues in the future," Ms. Warner said in a statement that was released before her death.
In between tears, Dawn Warner on Tuesday thanked the community for its support during the family's loss and time of grieving. Ms. Warner's sister, Carol Lynn Fitch, said that Jane was cherished by family and "loved beyond measure."
A staunch advocate for animal rights and queer youth, Ms. Warner supported the controversial queer youth shelters in the Castro and Noe Valley in the late 1990s, until both shelters closed. She was often the voice for animals and individuals seeking justice, a sense of equality that developed in her childhood, according to her sisters.
Ms. Warner was born November 7, 1956, the youngest of three sisters, and raised in White Salmon, Washington. Ms. Warner's sisters fondly remembered their sister lobbying her school and public officials on various issues throughout her childhood, they told the B.A.R. in interviews in the months leading up to Ms. Warner's passing.
Dufty and Hammer honored Ms. Warner's service to San Francisco, in particular to the Castro, Mission, and Noe Valley neighborhoods, by adjourning the Board of Supervisors and Police Commission meetings in her memory earlier this week.
In addition to her wife, Dawn, Ms. Warner is survived by their children, Tiffany Nahhas, Kima Nelson, and Sy Nahhas; five grandchildren; her mother, Carol Warner; her sisters, Carol Lynn Fitch and Kathryn Ruth Ness and their husbands; three nephews; her two dogs, Purdy and Rave, and her two cats, Marnie and Ricki, who are in her friends' care.
A public memorial is currently being planned.
In lieu of flowers, Ms. Warner's family suggests that donations be made in her memory to Rocket Dog Rescue (www.rocketdogrescue.org), San Francisco SPCA (www.sfspca.org), or the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (www.ocrf.org).
Business calls regarding the Patrol Special Police beats can be directed to Handman at (415) 559-9955 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. For police matters, that number can be called after 2 p.m.